November 18, 2015

7.50 am. A necessary, fast turnaround on a student submission. 8.45 am. Off to School.

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On such a day as this, one can understand why storms are sometimes regarded as an objective correlative for certain mental states. The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546), for his part, considered bad weather to be a manifestations of demonic malevolence. (That was the prevailing medieval view.) Somedays, one can be seduced into believing it, almost; nature can be remorseless, cruel, and indifferent to its victims.

9.00 am. I completed a professional reference (this time) that also needed a swift turnaround, before addressing my list of essay tutorials for the morning. My Dictaphone had failed to capture the last Abstraction lecture. Mercifully, one of the students present had made a bootleg recording. However, the sound quality of such did highlight the appalling acoustics in the lecture theatre. 11.40 pm. Tutorials completed, I took a small group of students down the road to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, where they attended an Inspirational Archives event. I returned immediately, just in case stragglers had begun to gather in the concourse.

1.50 pm. Following lunch and email review, I revisited the Commission to see how our postgraduates were fairing. They had it all in hand; they were in their element. An abundance of materials, ideas a plenty, and a sufficient wherewithal to induct and inspire strangers into free-fall creative practice. On one level, this was kindergarten for adults: an opportunity for productive and responsive play, without censure or embarrassment. We could all benefit from a bit of that.

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The project builds upon a collaborative relationship with the Commission that the School has enjoyed for many years. The, now, moribund Chapels in Wales module (the first of its kind in Welsh Higher Education) was one of the first fruits of this partnership.

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Ideas for future ventures and fresh teaching, research, and public engagement initiatives — linking the School with not only the Commission but also other public bodies committed to conservation and archives — fell from the sky, like rain. This is public engagement in a meaningful and uncontrived sense. Something one can believe in without either intellectual compromise or throwing up.

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One visitor had only begun drawing eight months ago. She was 92 years of age, frail but fully compos mentis, sparring with me, and agitating over the perspectival diminution of an area of railings on the seafront, represented in the photograph which she was copying. To be fair, a third year BA student would have struggled with this problem. Well, at the very least, her tenacity and willingness to think through the problem will help keep dementia at bay. A lesson for us all:

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7.30 am. I took my first tentative steps into implementing Turnitin (the e-submission software for text-based assignments). So far so good. I’m late to this game. All my previous module assignments during the Turnitin era so far, have been non-standard (large-scale and original documents, sizable image files, etc.) To end the evening, I began writing the explanatory text for the I Saw her Soul Fly Across the Clouds suite of songs.

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